TIME

12 May 2016

34. HOW TO HAVE MORE TIME

Ah, what we could all do with a few more hours in the day. Or could we just use what we have a little better? Here are our tips.

Where does it all go?

Before trying to change anything for the better, you need to understand the status quo. Over the course of a week, tot up exactly how you’re spending your time – everything from idle chat around the coffee machine and sneaky web-surfing to conference calls and commuting. Where is the padding in your day and what could you cut out?

Develop routines

Building patterns, albeit flexible ones, into your day encourages you to be organised, focused and disciplined. Be realistic in how you structure your day, so if you know your concentration tends to flag mid-afternoon, schedule in something relatively untaxing, such as signing letters or completing other office or personal administration tasks. . Save the big decisions for when you know you are most on the ball.

...But be spontaneous

The best opportunities have a tendency to materialise out of nowhere. While a curveball may throw your schedule into chaos, consider carefully whether acting on it could save time in the long-run. The more organised that you are day-to-day, the more feasible spontaneity becomes.

Get up earlier

Most people assume that more sleep equals better performance. But if you’re already getting more than you need, surplus Zs might simply be eating into your day. Try getting up half an hour earlier and getting stuck into something you would otherwise put off until later, such as exercise or ironing tomorrow’s shirt. You might be surprised at how little the lost shut-eye affects you.

Use technology

From prompts and calendars on your smartphone to software that speeds up specific processes and consolidates data, technology can improve efficiency and reduce errors. Weigh up the costs over the long-term against the benefits in terms of more time and less stress.

Delegate

If you err towards being proprietary over your work and responsibilities, it may be time to loosen your grip. Entrusting tasks to members of your team not only frees up your schedule for more pressing matters, but also demonstrates your faith in their abilities.

Write lists

When you jot down in priority order everything you need, or think you need, to do on a particular day, it can instantly seem more manageable. Delete the things you can delegate or reasonably postpone and, bingo, an hour of free time!

Rule your inbox

If your email account is set up to alert you every time you have mail, turn it off. While it can be hard to resist a quick peak at what’s new, the distraction and risk of getting side tracked can make tasks take twice as long. Allow periods when email is out of bounds or set to auto respond.